I spent a productive day on the weekend at a session put on by the Writers’ Community of Durham Region. Sam Hiyate of The Rights Factory in Toronto spoke to about 21 attentive writers and I’m not sure who had more fun, him or us. Sam’s enthusiasm as he talked about several of the books he represents kept the writers enthralled, each of us hoping to be the next published author whose story he might tell.
Some of the projects he mentioned were Claire Letemendia’s The Best of Men, of particular interest to me as it’s historical fiction, Andrew Kaufman’s The Waterproof Bible, Hothouse Flower by Margot Berwyn, and The Film Club by David Gilmore. Oh, and Skim, by Marika Tamaki, an amazing project using drawings in a novel way. All sounded great and are unique, very original projects.
Any time I can listen to a writing expert for six hours, I’m there. And, usually, I get a great payback for my trouble. This session made my two-hour drive well worthwhile. Here is a list of just a few of the tidbits Sam mentioned.
1. 90% of books don’t earn back their advance.
2. Pre-emptive offer and option are two types of offers authors might receive.
3. 95% of movies come from books.
4. In Canada authors don’t have to pay back what a book doesn’t earn of the advance. In the US, apparently they do.
5. Within the first 30 pages the book must show what the stakes are, introduce a sympathetic character with a problem, and introduce the central relationship.
6. A query should include the hook, what the book’s position in the market might be, and the author’s bio.
7. Never tell the ending of your book in the query letter.
Participants had the opportunity to have their prepared query critiqued and, naturally, I grabbed the chance. One of my better decisions. Getting personal time from a roomful of writers and a professional agent helped me hone my query letter.
Monday morning I launched it with all the good wishes of a luxury liner setting sail. Bon voyage!
What workshops or conferences have you attended lately? Were you glad you went? Consider leaving a comment about your experiences.